fredag 4 maj 2018

DarkOps townhouse build and review

Hi gang! As I said in my last post I ordered the What a Tanker! dashboard from DarkOps. Now they have a lot of MDF buildings as well, so I thought I'd try one out as I hadn't heard of them previously.

All the parts for the house except the base (which didn't fit into the picture).
The townhouse comes on 7 sheets of MDF, one of which is the base. Four are 2mm MDF and three are 3mm thick; upon closer inspection the base and outer walls (and the inside partitioning wall) are all on the thicker sheets. Now, here's the first drawback: there weren't any instructions included! I searched on the DarkOps site but couldn't find any downloads. But how hard can it be? I decided to crack on.

I started by cutting out all the wall and roof parts along and undercoating them with grey spray primer to seal them. Now, the nature of MDF is that it soaks up paint a lot, so spray priming is a good thing. Some people use hairspray to seal the MDF before priming even, but I skipped this stage since I didn't have any hairspray and didn't want to waste my precious Tamiya Flat Varnish. This led to the  primer being randomly absorbed by the MDF even during the second coat, drying in a sort of speckled pattern that I quite liked.
The wall and roof parts laid out after priming.
Only the outer walls have tabs that go into the base and other walls, so I started with them. Getting the side walls to stay in place when you fit the other walls almost takes three hands, but by inserting them halfway into the base you get a lot of help. Don't forget the partition wall at this stage since you can't fit it when all four outside walls are in place. When everything is where it should be, gently press the whole assembly into the base and run PVA glue in all the joints on the inside to fix it in place. Leave it to dry a bit before proceeding, but if you don't allow it to dry fully you can adjust the pieces slightly when fitting the next part. 

Be sure to dry fit everything.
When the walls are all lined up gently press them down into the base.
The outhouses in the back are added while the glue is still wet.
At this stage let the glue dry completely before proceeding.

Now add the inner walls, one at a time.

You might want to paint them first, something I figured out after gluing the first one...
The inner walls are a wee bit thinner and also have nice etched details like window sills and bare stonework here and there. They also give 3D effect to the windows making them a bit recessed. It's a good idea to paint the window frames and other details before glueing the inside walls in place.

The doors are in two halves that you have to glue together. My doors were about a millimeter off centre though.
At this point I was beginning to think about the doors. They have a square peg that fits in a round hole in the base and a cutout in the outer walls, and is held in place by the inside walls and the outside door frame. However, if you want them to open and close you have to paint them before fitting them inside, which means before glueing all the outside woodwork in place.

Paint the doors and door frames before gluing.

A square peg in a round hole? Do it!

Make sure the doors can open. I had to carve the pegs a wee bit to make them swivel propely.

Then carefully glue the wood work to hold the doors in place.
I had to make a decision about painting on the fly. Originally I was going to paint the house after assembly like I always do, but I realised it would probably be a lot harder and messier. So what colour should the house be? As I like the speckled grey effect of the primer I let it be and then only painted the details. I left the woodwork the original (burnt) MDF colour but painted the door and windows frames of the first home blue, while the second home got green doors instead. I don't know if it's typically french, but I wanted some splash of colour on the house!

Work your way around the house...

...and glue all the wood work in place.
The wood work is cleverly designed so it not only holds the doors in place, but also covers all the joints in the MDF.

Glue the roof supports together.

...and let it dry in place on the house to ensure a correct fit when the glue has set.

As always, test fit. The roof can be made removeable, except for the outhouse roofs.
The roof is next. It's easier to assemble than it looks, and the inner walls have slots in them for the roof support beams to sit in. I let the beams dry completely before affixing the roof. Don't glue the beams to the walls so you will be able to lift the roof off.

Paint the roof a suitable colour. Park your cromwell outside like a boss.

Some simple weathering can be added in the form of dark or light streaks going down the roof.
As you can see the kit is quite simple to build but yields a good result. There are some clever solutions, for instance how the wood work hides almost all the joins. The building has a nice heft to it from the 5 mm (in total) thick walls and it is big enough to hide your tank behind (or your infantry inside)... For 19 pounds it's well worth the money, and the inside details were a nice surprise that I didn't expect at that price. DarkOps has a ruined version as well as a Boulangerie and a Black Smith's house that look very interesting.

There are some small drawbacks though. The first is that there are no instructions, neither in the package nor online. But as you can see, with a little preparation and careful dryfitting there are no major problems. The second drawback is that there are no chimneys included. The building is sort of aimed att WW2 although can be used earlier, but in any way it's the sort of home that typically would have a wood stove. Also the style suggests it's a semidetached house with home for two families and would therefore have two chimneys. My third complaint is that there is no ridge to the roof, so I hade to make it out of airdrying clay. Small nitpicks yes, but still detractions, especially as there are room on one of the boards to include parts for chimneys. If not chimneys, then perhaps a wheel barrow or a couple of benches could have been put in that space.

On the plus side the model scrubs up nicely without much effort. I was thinking of putting some clay on the walls to simulate plaster and get a nice 3D effect and then painting it all, but I feel that the building is table ready as it is.

I give the Darkops Townhouse 4 burnt MDF boards out of 5.

Happy gaming!

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Wayland games

Wayland Games